The Quiet Way

I decided to walk home.

I turned off the main road

away from the late-night crowds,

tipsy heels and lipstick laughter,

the night-buses, misjudged texts,

and ‘everyone back to mine’,

the final songs, minicab signs,

and those ‘one last line’s,

into the quiet.

I passed under the railway bridge,

stepping over crumpled cans, bottles,

and almost-empty plastic baggies,

their corners carefully hiding

the faded magic of someone else’s night

like glitter.

The shape of the bassline from the club

still filled my ribcage,

beating wings inside my chest.

There was nobody on that street

with me

but you.

We shared a glance

and you looked down immediately,

embarrassed,

wanting to make sure I knew

you were not a threat.

We both turned left

at the same time.

I laughed

and you caught it;

a sudden sound in the night air,

filling the space between us.

You shrugged as if to say,

I’m not following you;

I live this way too.

We shared the pavement

in the companionable silence,

of not knowing one another’s lives.

But as we walked through the orange air

that hung beneath that streetlight

on the corner,

for one moment

I saw your outline,

the shape of you,

the shadow of your smile,

as I walked beside you.

When you took that final turning

onto your street,

I realised I wasn’t sure where I was.

I’d walked too far;

for the past few minutes

I had been following you,

not wanting to take the quiet way

on my own.

I stood still,

watching your outline

grow fainter.

I didn’t know where I lived.

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